Michael Madigan 'suspending' campaign to continue as Illinois House speaker

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Longtime Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan released a statement Monday saying he is suspending his campaign to maintain the position he has held for decades.

Madigan would need 60 votes to maintain his speakership. He released a statement saying that, "This is not a withdrawal. I have suspended my campaign for Speaker. As I have said many times in the past, I have always put the best interest of the House Democratic Caucus and our members first. The House Democratic Caucus can work to find someone, other than me, to get 60 votes for Speaker."

RELATED: Mike Madigan fight for gavel recalls 1975 Illinois House speaker vote

"It's a stunning turn of events," said ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington. "Mike Madigan on the surface would appear to be giving up and that's not Mike Madigan."

It comes after an informal vote on Sunday where Madigan garnered the backing of 51 Democrats for Speaker, but he needs 60.

"It has certainly led to a flurry of activity among my colleagues as folks try to figure out their next steps," said State Representative Kelly Cassidy, (D) Chicago.

Support for Madigan began to crumble after he was implicated but not charged in the ComEd bribery scandal, the company accused of providing money and no-show jobs to Madigan associates to curry favor with the Speaker for legislation.

State Representatives Stephanie Kifowit and Ann Williams are already declared candidates.

Others who could emerge include Representatives Chris Welch and Will Davis.

The Black Caucus met Monday afternoon to consider options and other caucuses are expected to do the same.

"I hope that those that step up really understand the challenges before us, and how difficult of a job being the Speaker of the House in Illinois is," said State Representative La Shawn Ford, (D) Chicago.

Governor JB Pritzker seems to be taking a watch and wait approach.

"I will work with whoever the members of the House of Representatives elect at their Speaker," he said.

By not withdrawing, Madigan may believe no one else will be able to get the needed votes to replace him.

"He's changing strategy and hoping that he can become the consensus candidate down the road," Washington said.

Candidates are now scrambling to line up support and there will be a series of behind the scenes votes between now and Wednesday on when they will be officially sworn in and begin the public process of electing the next Speaker.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) released the following statement Monday saying, "With 36 hours left before the swearing-in of a new General Assembly, Michael Madigan continues to create uncertainty and misdirection. His latest statement about suspending his bid for Speaker, but not withdrawing, is typical of his style and appears to be another ploy or a head fake. For the sake of the institution, his caucus must demand that he be direct and honest about his intentions - in or out."

One state representative said, "Buckle up."

Madigan was first elected speaker of the Illinois House in 1983, serving in that role ever since except for between 1995-97.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.